By Ryan Decker, Originally written for West Virginia Illustrated
It’s a quick turnaround for No. 19 West Virginia (4-0).
The Mountaineer men’s basketball team gave WVU fans a happy Thanksgiving Thursday with an 89-57 win over Illinois (4-2) in one of the two semi-final games that took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
WVU will be back on the Brooklyn hard court Friday in the NIT Season Tip-Off championship game against Temple (3-2) at 3 p.m.
A pair of Mountaineers scored in double figures and six others finished within one shot of getting to ten-plus points in the win over the Illini Thursday. Nathan Adrian led the way with 13, while Jevon Carter added 10.
Carter filled the stat sheet, totaling his 10 points with the help of two 3-pointers, while grabbing six rebounds, dishing out five assists and coming up with six steals.
In total, West Virginia forced 24 turnovers in the game, while committing just six turnovers themselves. WVU also scored 34 points off of those two-dozen Illinois turnovers.
The Owls played in the game prior to the Mountaineers on Thanksgiving, erasing an 18-point deficit in a comeback win over No. 25 Florida State, 89-86.
The Owls had a good day shooting-wise, shooting nearly 47-percent from the floor and over 50-percent from beyond the arch, making eleven 3-pointers.
As a team, Temple averages 76 points per game, led by Springfield, VA native Obi Enechionyia, who is averaging 20.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per contest.
Statistically, West Virginia has the advantage with better numbers in points (98), rebounds (43), assists (22) and three-point shooting percentage (40) per game. One other advantage WVU seems to have over the Owls – and most teams it will face – is depth.
Five Mountaineer players are averaging 10 or more points on the year, and eleven players are seeing at least 10 minute of action per contest.
Friday could be one of the few times this season that the Mountaineers don’t have the height advantage, with Enechionyia and Ernest Aflakpui standing at 6’10”, and Damion Moore at 6’11” for Temple.
WVU v. Temple will be televised nationally on ESPN 2.